For better or for worse: Evaluating Chargers offense ahead of training camp

The Chargers lost some key starters from last season but added a few in correspondence via free agency and the draft.

But how do they compare from the end of the 2023 regular season to now?

Let’s break it down by position, starting with the offense.

Quarterback

Offseason moves: Re-signed Easton Stick.

Summary: The Chargers are locked in with Justin Herbert. Herbert is coming off a down year, as he was hit with injuries to both hands, with his throwing hand being season-ending. Another year, another offense for Herbert, marking his fourth in five seasons in the league. Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman want to run the football, so it’ll be enticing to see how they design this offense to accomplish that and allow Herbert to flourish as a passer. They brought back Stick to serve as Herbert’s backup. Stick was the backup with zero experience as a starter until last season when Herbert was sidelined with his finger injury. Stick went on to start the final four games and finished with 1,129 passing yards, three touchdowns and one interception while adding 144 rushing yards and a score on 27 carries.

Verdict: Same

Running Back

Offseason moves: Lost Austin Ekeler (signed with the Commanders). Signed Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins (previously with the Ravens). Drafted Kimani Vidal (sixth-round pick)

Summary: After playing with the Chargers for seven seasons, Ekeler departed and eventually reunited with former head coach Anthony Lynn, who is now Washington’s running backs coach. With the vision of the offense pounding the rock and wearing defenses on the ground, Los Angeles went out and got guys familiar with Roman’s gap/power scheme. Edwards is coming off a year where he set career highs in rushing yards (810) and touchdowns (13). Dobbins has struggled to stay healthy, but his most productive season came under Roman in 2020 when he rushed for 805 yards, nine scores and 6.0 yards per carry. Vidal was productive at Troy, rushing for 1,661 yards and scoring 14 touchdowns on 295 carries.

Verdict: Better

Wide Receiver

Offseason moves: Traded Keenan Allen (Bears). Lost Mike Williams (signed with the Jets). Drafted Ladd McConkey (second round), Cornelius Johnson and Brenden Rice (seventh round). Signed D.J. Chark (previously with the Panthers).

Summary: Once a strength of the Chargers, now the wide receiver room lacks top-end talent after the losses of Allen and Williams. Joshua Palmer has the most experience in the group, and he is expected to take a big step in his contract year. McConkey, who Los Angeles traded up for to get in Round 2, is expected to be a significant contributor in his rookie season. He and Herbert have already started to develop a rapport. The team is hopeful that Quentin Johnston can shake off his rough rookie campaign and provide the offense with a legitimate yards-after-the-catch threat. Chark hasn’t had a productive season since 2019 with the Jaguars when he earned Pro Bowl honors. He offers elite speed to serve as a vertical threat. Johnson and Rice will compete for roster spots.

Verdict: Worse

Tight End

Offseason moves: Lost Gerald Everett (signed with the Bears). Signed Will Dissly (previously with the Seahawks) and Hayden Hurst (previously with the Panthers).

Summary: In two seasons as a Charger, Everett was vital in the passing game with his yards-after-the-catch ability and clutchness on money downs. They found their replacement for Everett with Hurst, who played under Roman for two seasons in Baltimore. Hurst offers the upside as a receiver but can also block. In a new offense where blocking tight ends are integral, they signed one of the best in that department in Dissly. The offense hasn’t had a good blocking tight end since 2020. Parham returns for another season and should be reliable in the red zone with his 6-foot-8 frame.

Verdict: Better

Offensive line

Offseason moves: Lost Corey Linsley (likely to retire). Drafted Joe Alt (first round)

Summary: The Chargers felt the loss of Linsley throughout last season when he was sidelined with his heart issue. Filling Linsley’s void was arguably the most critical offseason move. They did so with Bozeman, who has seven years of starting experience and is familiar with Roman’s scheme, having played under him for four seasons. Los Angeles struck gold with Rashawn Slater. They hope they do the same with Joe Alt, who will start opposite Slater. Alt should make a difference in the run game from Day 1. Now it’s just a matter of how he holds up against NFL pass rushers. With Alt sliding in at right tackle, Trey Pipkins will move inside to right guard. Despite never playing the position, Pipkins has the athleticism, length and football IQ to make the transition seamless.

Verdict: Slightly better

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Title: For better or for worse: Evaluating Chargers offense ahead of training camp
Author: Gavino Borquez

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